Wool lint tips for rug hooking

Wool lint tips for rug hooking

Dark wool ready for the dryer

I told you that I would be back with some wool lint tips- here they are. Short and sweet.

In this time of COVID we have all found ourselves needing to wear masks- some, more than others depending on what your day might be like.

Just wear a mask

I have started wearing masks when I cut wool for rug hooking. The dust can be quite something depending on the piece you are cutting. In the studio it has become apparent just how much dust is created! For some reason it wasn’t as noticeable in the house (maybe because it is always dusty there…). Gracie isn’t even brought into the studio when there is a kit to cut- even the dog doesn’t need this . She won’t wear a mask…but then again- I can’t fault her for that.

Mask ready to wear

It is sure easy to wear a mask- you probably all have one or more masks at home. No need to be breathing this wool lint or anything else extra into our lungs right now. There is a good assortment of homemade masks hanging by the door to grab as we leave the house. Just one more thing to remember when leaving, but a necessary one. It seems like we will be needing masks for awhile, according to Dr. Fauci.

Blue wool strips

Put your wool strips in the dryer

The second tip is this. If I have a large amount of wool strips- especially black- I just loosely knot them and throw in the dryer for 5 minutes or so- the dust (lint) ends up in the lint trap and not spreading all over the place. That was a trial that worked out beautifully. The strips come out the same as they went into the dryer minus the lint ! A mesh bag would most likely work the same. I’m going to try that this week. Really, that might be done each time with any amount of wool here. The important part is to gather the strips in some fashion so they don’t get tangled.

Wool cutter dust for rug hooking strips

Bolivar wool cutter

As you can see- the dust beneath, around and in the blades is quite a bit from cutting the above bundle of blues. My Bolivar cutter gets a workout and needs to be cleaned regularly so it will work it’s best.

Wool for so many things!

Wool…I do love it and am determined not to let the dust get to me. The history of this wonderful fabric alone makes it that much more special. It reminds me of my childhood – my mother used a lot of wool in her day.

Have you made any masks yourself? There isn’t a style that seems better than another for me yet. I’ve tried several and the quickest one seems to be the pleated one – how about for you? If you have a recommended pattern please share. Are you double masking now?

You can’t be too too careful these days! Stay well my friends.

Hello from home – journey with a sourdough starter

Hello from home – journey with a sourdough starter

Hello from home! See where I am so far with my journey into sourdough and sourdough starter.

I imagine most of you are at home right now- we are here anyway. Only the essential workers are around but I sure am glad that they are ! There are some local stores that are providing curbside pick up where I can get milk, eggs, flour, handmade bagels (yum) and some more things that have proven to be necessary items in our home. Toilet paper? well, that is another story isn’t it?

Bob and Rita sourdough starter

I finally took the dive into Sourdough- and what a dive it’s been! It’s like having another pet ( or in my case 2) since I wasn’t really sure my first starter was working. I started another one using whole grain flour instead of all purpose. There are so many articles, hints and tutorials on the web it can be quite daunting but I found one that worked for me from The Clever Carrot.

They are both thriving now- and were born on April 2 and April 4. Their names are Rita and Bob.The photo above shows them just starting out again after taking away the “discard” portion.

Rising dough for focaccia

Sourdough discard

There are lots of recipes for sourdough discard on the web. So far we have made waffles a few times, pancakes, again a few times, crumpets, focaccia, biscuits and pizza dough .

Garlic and Rosemary Focaccia

The current experiment is whole wheat sourdough burger buns. My burger will be veggie but I see them as great substitutes for sandwich bread. They are rising right now and will be baked later today. I’m really looking forward to how they taste. Who knew there were all of these things to do with sourdough?? and I thought it was just about baking bread- the things I am learning through this quarantine time- amazingly useful stuff!

ETSY shop is busy!

Along with tending the sourdough every day the orders have been coming in steadily from the ETSY shop. That has been great . Between feeding the starter and responding to customers there have been rugs made and wool dyed. In fact, there is wool soaking right now and some ready for listing.

Gone are all of the things that were on the list to do- clearing cupboards and sorting through boxes. Oh, that hasn’t happened, but other things have taken up all of the time- essential things.Those will go back on the list, but for now- other things seem much more important.

A few new wools with more to follow

Some of the wool will be sold in bundles since it seems to look better as a collection rather than a single piece. Others are listed as singles- like the spot dyes. Those spot dyes- so beautiful and fun to create! There may have to be a spot dye day in the near future.

Blue spot dye
Antique Blue Green bundle
Blue Cupboard Bundle

New linen “Keeper Sacks”

Trying to be creative with some linen sacks that were made long ago. Boy, those percolated in my head for a long long time, but they came out pretty sweet and have been put together as a collection with bundles of like colored wool. The red bundle sold almost immediately . There is a blue collection listed with more wool than the red. Probably a neutral collection will be next up.

Linen “Keeper Sack”

Making Masks for Maine

Oh, the mask making- how could I forget that?? For a while it felt like a part time job, but now that there is a system in place, they go much faster. They are being offered for free with a $50 purchase in the shop while there are some made up. The others have all gone to Sewing Masks for Maine. I read a post about how the recipients are having fun choosing which ones they like best and even giving them names. It’s gratifying knowing that it is bringing a wee bit of joy to the health care community in these challenging times.I have some more to make either today or tomorrow.

A new way of connecting

Zoom– who knew this was going to be the way to communicate with one another? We have coffee and lunch dates with our family. That has been interesting and quite fun- it’s like having everyone together at home, only on a screen! The daughter and son in law in Scotland are able to be with us too. He brings loads of creativity to the chats. You would have to witness them, too hard to re-create here. Let’s just say its been fun and adds some laughter when we all need some. I can.not.wait. to give them all real hugs though.

Well the buns are out of the oven and smell great! Hopefully they will taste as good as they smell.

Sourdough burger buns

So as I say hello from home. In Maine, know that things have been happening here in our humble dwellings. We are busy busy! There were some thoughts of gardening, but then it snows again, and again, and again…. Spring is coming- we can feel it!! The birds are trickling in to the feeders. We have to take those in at night because there have been bears at peoples feeders already. Since we have been through that in the past we are trying to avoid that again. They really do a job on things when they show up!

I’d love for you to say hello from your home and tell me what you have been up to. I’m off to the Post Office, with mask on, to ship packages to folks who are crafting. I’ll pick up some flour and bagels at the Cafe, curbside, and head back home. Gracie will come along for the ride- the highlight of her day.

Stay well friends. Hope to hear from you soon!

Intentions or goals?

Intentions or goals?

new day at dawn
A new day

I (Intention)

Intentions and goals- two separate things? or are they? What are your intentions? are they in alignment with what your goals might be? Make this year a year to think about your intentions to perhaps realize some of your goals. That is my plan- let’s see how I do.

N (Need)

Need. Do you need to be doing what you are doing? or would it be a better idea if you tried something new? Do you need to make lists and stick to them? what are some things you can let go? Can you be smarter, more creative, be kinder, do more for others? What are your needs and how do they align with your intentions? What can you do differently ?

T (Try)

Try to not let the days fly past you. IF you can, be mindful of what it is that you intend on doing, that day, that week, that month, this year. Try, really, that’s all you can do isn’t it? Looking back over the year – I see that many of my yearly resolutions slipped away as the days and weeks moved forward. More important here is I’ve never been one to be able to even meal plan for a week without some glitch derailing that plan. However, I did accomplish things this past year- having the most profitable year in my business , for example. Moving forward I will try, with good intention, to up that this coming year. After all, I have learned a lot about selling and marketing, but there is ALWAYS more to learn and tweak. That website…

E (Entertain)

Entertain the idea of your intentions. Perhaps think or entertain the idea of learning new things. How about the idea of revisiting something that you used to do but have let fall aside due to time constraints. Skiing? exercising? getting outside more? making time for friends? Then there is always the idea of doing something out of your comfort zone- maybe something that even scares you a bit. With that intention and goal it could be a more interesting year.

N (Nurture)

Nurture your intentions. You can’t just put them out there and not give them the time they need to come to fruition. Nurture yourself and the rest will come. Where have I heard that before? Everywhere???

T (Think)

Think about the year that has just passed. What about it was good? ( a new grandchild was born for one thing!) what was it that really wasn’t that great? (more skin issues) Imagine how you can carry on with the good parts of the years past, and think about how you can let go of the things that weren’t so great.(ALWAYS wear a hat!?) Make some changes if that will help. Be intentional about how your year should look- what kinds of goals might be useful.

I (Intend)

Intention- back to that word. “She had good intentions, but they didn’t pan out”. Has this ever happened to you? Intentions can be like goals- set small ones that can be more attainable. Short goals, daily, weekly – these don’t seem so cumbersome or daunting. You can revisit them more easily when they have shorter time frames.

O (Optimistic)

Optimistic. Let’s try to be more positive and optimistic. It is hard, considering the daily news that bombards us day in and day out. The politics, the fires, the droughts, the earthquakes, the storms, the shootings. Let’s be optimistic about what we can do , what we can accomplish this year and try to let go of the negative stuff. Find a way to make things better- don’t just complain about what is wrong- how can you help? what kindness can you show, what change can you make that will be for the overall good of the earth and it’s many diverse people? Be optimistic about your intentions to do good work. Make a pillow 🙂

N (Nourish)

Nourish your goals and intentions, creativity , relationships, your health, wellness, your craft. How can you find ways that will help you grow? Even at my age there are always new ways to seek nourishment. Food, of course, but how can a live performance, a trip to a place you’ve never been, a visit to a craftsman’s place of work, a stroll through a gallery – how can these things nourish you and fill you up with ideas?

Finished this custom rug

Best of plans

So with all of my good intentions and quasi goals- I had intended to get this out last week. But, par usual around here, things got in the way. My young dog was spayed and is a hard one to leave alone- sedatives? what sedatives??? She is taking them but they aren’t working! Notice the tape on her “cone of shame”- or, as the vet tech refers to it- her” happy hat”. Chewing, chewing… She has, somehow, opened up her incision just a tiny bit but enough to be concerning… A Saturday trip to the vet with a return trip on Monday as a follow up. We’ve tried to be so good! She is trying to be so good but it is J U S T so H A R D!

I will be writing goals for my business – intentions don’t really apply here do they? You need to have specific goals in your business so that you can move forward. More about that later.

And I decided this would be a good time to apply the cream and ointment to my face that my dermatologist has been after me to do for years. Efudex, that wonder cream, brings all of the sun damaged skin to the surface and eventually sloughs the bad off before it gets a chance to turn into something worse. Believe me, I’ve had the worse- many MOHS surgeries and radiation this fall. No pity from any of you- just the facts as I have lived them. Wear your sunscreen people- that’s all I have to say on the point.

Better days ahead

My grandson loving life

Wow, it’s been a long week and next week doesn’t look like it will be too much better. Gracie will be feeling more energetic and harder to keep calm and my face continues to get redder as if I have chicken pox or the measles. We are quite the pair! I have been actively staying inside this past week and we are both getting a bit stir crazy!

Pattern sorting and putting on linen

So- along the line of being optimistic and nurturing? Patterns are being realized as I move everything down into my kitchen so as to keep a close eye on the other patient…things are getting done- both Gracie and I are on the upswing and we will be back to “normal” before you know it!

I don’t intend to be preachy here – just something to think about as you begin your plans for the year ahead. We “intend” to travel a bit more. My husband will retire and looks forward to gardening, making and reading all he wants without cramming it into weekend warrior status.

Let your new year- this beginning of the new decade of 2020 – be one that is both memorable for you , productive and positive. Just imagine how you might make that happen.

Threat of Frost

Threat of Frost

pumpkins and long pie pumpkins

There is always so much to do in the fall – well, really there is ALWAYS much to do depending on the season. In the fall there is a “get ready because there might be a threat of frost” kind of panic.

Fall harvest chores

So there was a threat of frost the other night. It was a scramble yesterday to pick dahlias, harvest raspberries, peaches, apples, tomatoes, some of the masses of basil and then I ran out of steam.

dahlias from the garden

That threat of frost always seems to catch us off guard every year. We scramble around trying to get everything in. Then the entire house is filled with so many vegetables that then need to be processed!

Applesauce, pepper jelly and more

red pepper jelly

I have a bucket of apples destined for applesauce. We have a large bowl full of hot peppers that will be turned into pepper jelly and who knows what else ( since there are SO MANY of them). We have some peaches that we can hopefully consume since I just made last years into jam. Some will get frozen for pie.

apples from an old apple tree on our property
peaches from our one tree
cucumber pickles

We made some pickles with the cucumbers. There are enough long pie pumpkins to make enough pies for an army! The good thing is, I also fill Kongs with mashed pumpkin for Gracie the Pup, so she’ll be happy.

Storage vegetables

Potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic- yup- have loads of those. I think I’ll make potato leek soup for dinner tonight- yum.

tomatoes from the garden

Some of the tomatoes have been roasted which made the house smell awesome. I hope to make salsa with some more of them before too long. Do you have a good salsa recipe? I’d like to can some again but am open to suggestions.

I know I’m forgetting something- there seems to be so much cluttering the counters and table right now it’s hard to think.

There are worse things to worry about to be sure. The threat of frost? well, we have a jump on it at least. The garden is still full of beets, carrots, chard, kale and flowers. We’ll do what we can next weekend again.

Just think about how far ahead we’ll be when my husband retires! Threat of frost? we’ll be way ahead of it next year…

What was in your garden and what have you done with it all?

Right now when I’m not dealing with vegetables I am working on a new pattern for the fall. Here is a preview.

fall pattern- turkey trot

I better get organizing all of this produce and get cooking.

Appreciating the beauty of the garden

Appreciating the beauty of the garden

Appreciating dahlias from the garden

Appreciating the beauty of the garden. Looking out the kitchen window at this time of year is glorious. The dahlias are in bloom and are strutting their stuff. My husband planted some new varieties this year and they are just starting to bloom- and are they ever beautiful! The house is filled with them.

Vegetables a plenty

Appreciating vegetables from the garden

The vegetables are doing well too- tomatoes, squash, herbs, greens, potatoes, onions, garlic, brocolli, peppers, beets, pumpkins , gourds and some popcorn ( which is a new addition). The deer have loved the green beans (boo) eating the bulk of them.The peas were plentiful but are now long gone. I forgot to mention the raspberries- red, yellow and black. We didn’t do a very good job keeping up with those- some are in the freezer, but we lost more than we care to admit.

Freezer peaches became jam, some peppers became pickled with the rest awaiting their fate. I’ve roasted tomatoes and have plans to make salsa with some more. The spiralizer has become a staple lately turning yellow squash and zucchini into “pasta”. Why didn’t I use this cool tool in the past! The beets have yet to be spiralized but definitely is in the back of my mind for a fun treat.

The wildlife dilemma

The sunflowers survived the deer this year- maybe because they have been busy devouring the hosta plants around the yard ( another boo).

The potatoes, winter squash and onions will keep through the fall and early winter. We will decorate with the pumpkins and gourds. The canned vegetables and preserves will last us too. This has been a good year for us and next year will be even better when my husband retires and is home to garden his heart out!

Did you garden this year? what did you put up? do you have any recipes that you found that you loved?

Any recipes to share?

Cookie and Kate is a great site to visit if you need some ideas for what to do with all of your bounty. I did buy some kohlrabi at the farmers market, you can’t grow EVERYTHING… and I want to try the recipe in their link soon. Smitten Kitchen is another great site to check out for yumminess. There are so many!

I’ll share a quick peach jam recipe that my daughter shared with me. Some basil leaves were added to the last batch. Maybe add more next time around since the flavor isn’t coming through like was hoped.

Peach jam

  • 4 pounds of peaches (about 8 cups)
  • 5 cups of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • basil leaves
  • prepare the peaches by peeling, pitting and slicing
  • put all of the ingredients into the same heavy bottomed pot
  • bring to a slow boil until it reaches a temperature of 220 degrees
  • add pectin if you think it is “too thin” – not necessary if you love the consistency of what you are seeing
  • ladle into your sterilized jars, placing strips of basil leaves into the bottom of each jar
  • attach lids and covers
  • place in a hot water bath and process for 15 minutes
  • remove from canner and let cool – you should hear a pop as the covers seal – if one doesn’t seal- place in the refrigerator and enjoy right away.

I will be finishing up this rug this week- a nod to the harvest. Also some more Jack pumpkins on vintage spools – watch the ETSY shop for these soon.

So how do you appreciate the beauty of your garden? Tell your gardener how much you appreciate all of the work that goes along with it. Then pat yourself on the back for making sure that it isn’t wasted- maybe share some of the bounty. In any event- enjoy!

Rug hooking? what is that?

Rug hooking? what is that?

Camera on hooked rug

There is a site where you could get free images to use however you want to use them. It is call “Upsplash“- maybe you already know about it. They are beautiful! all of them, but in my search- no rug hooking, no hooked rugs, no vintage rugs, no wool fabric for rugs…what? The image above is one I took, certainly not a professional look. Don’t these people know who we are? what this craft is? that it was a heritage craft from New England?- that there is a wonderful history that goes along with it ? that there has been a resurgence in the making of hooked rugs ?…

Tough Business

It’s a tough business- getting people to understand what you do- why you do it- why it is important- why others should , at least, learn a bit about it. There are, I imagine, other crafts out there that face similar difficulties in being understood.

Mayan women

If you were to look at the Mayan women , for example, you would see a thriving industry of hooked rugs. Their rugs are vibrant and alive with color. Look up the book, Rug Money. It is a beautiful book of how this industry changed their lives. You can see examples of some of their work if you look at the Pinterest page of Guatemalan hooked rugs.

The New England rugs can be, at times, dull- the primitive look. That all stems from the clothing actually. New Englanders wore dark, practical clothing- nothing splashy or showy. There may have been an occasional red here and there, but usually darker colors. The rugs were made from clothes that could no longer be worn after all! Other cultures have more color in their fashion lending their rugs to be more colorful. Check out this book by Judith Burger-Gossart Sadie’s Winter Dream about the Maine Seacoast Mission hooked rugs. This speaks about their cottage industry – making rugs to support their family.

Wake up mainstream

But, that isn’t the point here. The point is- the “mainstream” doesn’t know who we are! We are a vibrant community of makers too- and should be photographed! be out there in the public eye. To see a gorgeous professional photo of my work, or of someone working on a rug would be wonderful.

rug hooks and hand dyed wool

So- if you are reading this, you probably already know what hooked rugs are. How they might be made and with what materials. The folks that claim to be rug hookers who are using yarn in hoops to hang on the wall- well? Those might be pretty to the eye and they might take a skill set that I don’t understand- but it doesn’t really seem like they can be called “hooked rugs”. They are better described as needle punched rugs. Please don’t be offended if you are one of those makers – your work is beautiful- truly it is, but it isn’t made the traditional way with a rug hook and wool fabric.

Spread the word

Could you help the real rug hookers out there- could you say- “oh I know what that is. It is a heritage craft using wool strips on a linen foundation cloth, pulling loops up through the linen, one loop at a time”. Sometimes rugs tell stories, sometimes they depict loved ones, favorite pets, or dare I say- geometric and modern. Yes, we do it all and are proud to be hookers.

My little home business, as it is, is chugging along quite nicely. I have repeat customers and new “followers” every day. You can find me with the dye pots on the stove when the air is cooler, or sitting with my frame at night hooking away perhaps listening to an Audible book , watching Public Television or keeping up with the news. Watching the last season of Poldark makes the time fly by!

Other hookers to investigate

If you want- have a look at a few people who are making a difference in the industry- Deanne Fitzpatrick of Hooking Rugs or Wanda Kerr of WandaWorks- granted, they are both in Canada- but along with New England, they too have a rich history of making rugs. Then there is Beth Miller of Parris House Wool Works right here in Maine. Susan Feller of Artwools, from West Virginia, who I will soon meet in person… There are so many creatives hooking away trying to explain what it is that we all do. We are working hard at it and loving what we do. Maybe you could have a look at what they are working on too.

Thanks for listening- help get the word out- we are here and are strong and aren’t going anywhere soon. Take some photos of us and our rugs- make us look like all of the other great photos out there- crafting, knitting , hooking, doing.

Watch soon for a post that will highlight some of the adventures of 207 Creatives. Beth Miller and I, along with Susan Feller of Artwools are going to be on the Schooner J&E Riggin in less than 8 days. Another 16 women will join us to hook, draw, create and enjoy great food and scenery off the coast of Maine. They are coming from Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, CT, NY, PA, Louisiana, and Maine. Don’t you wish you were joining us?

view of the J&E Riggin's sail

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